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European School Education Platform
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Teachers as drivers of innovation

While school leaders are crucial in fostering innovation, teachers are the driving force behind change in the classroom.
Teacher smiling at pupils
Adobe Stock / Gorodenkoff

Innovation can mean different things to different people. Most people associate innovation with novelty, with a change in the way things are done. And in order for things to change, one needs to keep an open mind. In education, innovation is often used to refer to technology or learning environments. However, above all else, innovation in education should mean flexibility: the willingness to try out new approaches and teaching strategies, with the aim of providing more inclusive and engaging learning experiences to all pupils.


Overcoming obstacles in innovation


Innovation strategies at school and classroom level were a theme in the 2018 OECD Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS). While most teachers across the OECD agreed that they are open to change, openness to innovation seems to be lower in many European countries than in other parts of the world. In this sense, offering teachers autonomy can help promote creativity and innovation in the classroom. However, it is important that teachers receive the necessary training from the beginning, so as to avoid poor decision-making.


How to become an innovative teacher


Ongoing professional development is key. Teachers can be encouraged to take part in teaching or training programmes abroad through the Erasmus+ programme, or join online courses. These training courses allow teachers to exchange knowledge, learn new skills, pick up good practices and obtain a broader perspective on education.


Action research is an approach that requires teachers to become critical and reflective thinkers that are dedicated to improving the student learning experience. It can be used to solve everyday issues in the classroom such as changing the seating arrangement to allow for more collaborative learning.


Teacher networks, both big and small, can be valuable sources of inspiration. At school or local level, teachers can organise study groups, peer observation and joint reflection. Larger networks like or Global Teaching InSights offer numerous resources and opportunities for professional growth and networking.


Additional information

  • Education type:
    School Education
  • Target audience:
    Government / policy maker
    Head Teacher / Principal
    Student Teacher
    Teacher Educator
  • Target audience ISCED:
    Primary education (ISCED 1)
    Lower secondary education (ISCED 2)
    Upper secondary education (ISCED 3)


Teacher and school leader careers